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Frequency of Adolescent Texting at Night

Published in: Sleep Health, 2015

Posted on RAND.org on November 03, 2015

by Wendy M. Troxel, Gerald Hunter, Deborah M. Scharf

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OBJECTIVE: Electronic media use is pervasive among adolescents. However, prior studies of media use have not specifically focused on texting behavior, and current estimates of teen texting--a primary form of communication among adolescents--are based on teens' self-reported use. Evaluating the frequency of nighttime texting is crucial, given evidence that such behaviors may contribute to epidemic levels of insufficient sleep among adolescents. METHODS: Descriptive analysis of objectively recorded outgoing text message data in a sample of adolescents (n = 43; mean = 16.06, SD = 1.29 years of age; 63% females). RESULTS: The current study found that texting behavior was ubiquitous in the pre-bedtime period with 98% of adolescents sending at least 1 text after 8:00 pm. Texting was also very prevalent at night: 70% of participating teens sent at least 1 text between 10:00 pm and 5:59 am. CONCLUSIONS: These findings add to a growing body of literature highlighting the potential role of mobile electronic devices in adolescent sleep disturbances.

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